About this Sacred Pace

Providence Hospital, a Catholic hospital located in Northeast Washington, D.C., was founded in 1861 by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. As the hospital grew, the administration remained focused on its overall mission, but the stresses of the modern healthcare environment became increasingly evident. Concerns about staff retention, sicker patients, insurance limitations and other challenges became more and more prevalent.

In 2000 the administration felt the importance of developing a spiritual refuge — a place to find comfort, pray and begin healing. The Hospital Morale Initiative embraced the idea of a Healing Garden, to provide a retreat from the relentless rigors and stresses of medicine for all members of the hospital family. Nature Sacred, the Prince Charitable Trusts, and the Hospital Women’s Board all provided money or other support in order to make this new garden a reality. 

The design concept for the garden focused on creating a series of separate, restorative spaces that would be spiritually, if not physically, “away” from the stressful hospital environment, by providing a connection to growing plants, moving water and the changing seasons. Multiple pathways allow visitors to walk directly through the garden, or to choose narrow step stone paths that bypass the main walks. Both entrances lead to the central fountain area that is shielded from immediate view by stone walls. The idea was for all visitors to encounter an “unknown” and then discover a “refuge” that would provide a place of comfort.

A lawn area also provides a venue for planned activities, including lunchtime classes, concerts and Tai Chi demonstrations. Although highly public, the various garden areas and sensitively arranged seating provide abundant ways for people to use the garden privately. 

The garden is fully accessible and open to the public. All are welcome to visit the garden to rest, meditate or simply enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.

Designer: Mahan Rykiel Associates, Inc.